Neighborhood project builds understanding

By Roger Cardillo

Sometimes, looking at something from a different angle makes it easier to understand.

With that thought in mind, my students and I are becoming builders together and we are assembling a scale model of the local community. neighborhood 1Using paper, paint, cardboard and popsicle sticks, we’re going to create a bird’s-eye view of our little corner of the world.

This is not simply an art project; it is a way of getting our class to look at the city with fresh comprehension and a new set of questions: How do city streets work? If I want to get to Circle K, what’s the best way to get there? What route gets me to school every day?

During our “build,” we will be discussing awareness of our environment and talking about how cities are planned, the difference between houses and commercial buildings and the different ways we can get from Point A to Point B.

Gompers’ Director of Education, Mitch Henderson, definitely sees the value in this particular lesson.

neighborhood 6“Students better understand relative location by being able to identify specific places in relationship to where they go to school or nearby places with which they’re familiar,” Mr. Henderson notes. “Students with increased abilities will use the scale model to create turn-by-turn directions and calculate distances. This hands-on lesson creates a more meaningful learning experience for the students which they will be able to apply on their next community outing.”

One boy in my class, Abel, really seems to enjoy the time we are spending building this miniature community.

“It’s fun,” he says. “I like to count the houses.”

By the time we’re done, there will be plenty of houses and buildings to count!

Roger Cardillo earned his master’s degree in special education from the University of Phoenix and is certified in all related developmental delays and disciplines.